Following a 49-0 win over The Citadel, Clemson have their bye in week three of ACC football. The timing of the bye could have been more favorable, but the week off will provide useful time for the team to learn from their mistakes, improve, and recover.
After dominating the first two games of the season, it is safe to say that Clemson football will once again be competing for a national championship this year. Junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence is playing his best football, senior running back Travis Etienne is continuing to perform at an All-American level, and Clemson’s defense has only given up 13 points in two games. This bye week will be less about the starters’ improving and more about the second-stringers and backups watching film and learning from their mistakes.
With a game against the currently ranked No. 12 Miami Hurricanes coming up on Oct. 10, every player needs to watch the film from the first two games with a critical eye and review their mistakes. Offensively, there were no scores in the second half against The Citadel, who has nowhere near the same talent as most teams still left on Clemson’s schedule. Just like last year, Clemson will most likely have to go undefeated to make the College Football Playoff, so this bye week will be key in getting the second and third-team offenses up to speed.
Clemson football players are used to playing such long, demanding seasons, that their bodies should be fresh after only two games. However, some players do need the time off to physically recover, such as junior wide receiver Joseph Ngata who tweaked an ab muscle in the game against The Citadel, but for the most part, Clemson has been fortunate to have no serious injuries through two weeks of football. This year more than years past, the bye week will likely be used as a time to mentally recover and relax after arguably the most stressful offseason in the history of college football.
On March 15, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Clemson to cancel its spring football game. From that point forward, the offseason for college football was nothing short of erratic. Questions started to arise over whether or not a season could be conducted safely. The murder of George Floyd sparked demonstrations and protests in Clemson and across the country. Shortly after Clemson’s peaceful demonstration, it was announced on July 2 that 37 football players had tested positive for COVID-19. As for most people around the globe, these past seven months have most likely been emotionally draining for the players and coaches. The bye provides a chance for them to decompress and reflect on this bizarre year.
This time off to physically and emotionally recover is crucial for the players, but the risk of contracting COVID-19 is still out there. Players had Friday, Sept. 25 and Saturday off, with testing being done on Sunday. With a full slate of games still left on the schedule, the players and coaches must stay safe, so yet another National Championship trophy can come home to Death Valley.